Featured matchup: Marvin McNutt vs. Kevin Rutland


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Name: Marvin McNutt (and the rest of the Iowa wide receivers)
Year: Junior
Position: Wide receiver

With senior wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos suspended for the Insight Bowl — which would have been the final game in his record-breaking Iowa career — McNutt will be forced to be the lone playmaker on the edges.

Fellow wideouts Colin Sandeman and Keenan Davis will fill in for Johnson-Koulianos — and tight end Allen Reisner will certainly have an role, too — but the Hawkeyes will desperately need McNutt's playmaking ability in the desert.

A St. Louis native, McNutt is averaging nearly 16 yards per catch this season, and he has a touchdown in each of his last six games. And even though Sandeman started against Minnesota on Nov. 27, he has only 17 catches on the season. Davis has 10.

Indeed, the Hawkeyes' sport a thin wide-receiver corps against Missouri, which could be an issue considering the Tigers' penchant for intercepting passes.

Name: Kevin Rutland (and the rest of the Missouri secondary)
Year: Senior
Position: Cornerback

Missouri's sixth-ranked scoring defense is largely build on its ability to force turnovers. The Tigers' plus-11 turnover margin was second in the Big 12, 14th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Rutland, a senior from Houston, has been Gary Pinkel's most consistent contributor in the secondary with two interceptions. Then again, fellow defensive backs Jasper Simmons, Kenji Jackson, and Carl Gettis all have two picks, too. When you intercept 16 balls in 12 games, there are a lot to go around.

Without Johnson-Koulianos on the field, the Missouri secondary will be able to focus its efforts on stopping McNutt. The Tigers will face an Iowa offense that hasn't duplicated its early season numbers. The Hawkeyes went into their eighth game of the season having scored 30-plus points in all but one contest — thanks to the proficient passing attack.

The Hawks didn't break the 30-point plateau a single time in their final four games, losing three straight to close out the regular season. If the Missouri secondary shuts down McNutt and Company, it could be a long night for the Iowa offense.

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